Govt gets 2 proposals on new national car

More companies are expected to participate in the multibillion public sector-driven initiative

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The government has received two proposals to develop the new national car as more companies are expected to participate in the multibillion public sector-driven initiative.

Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) CEO Datuk Madani Sahari said the government expects more companies will put forward their interest before next Monday, the deadline for submission.

“I have received much feedback from interested parties. We shall wait until Oct 15, and then we can finalise the numbers of the proposals (we have received),” he said at the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between Proton Holdings Bhd and MAI in Shah Alam yesterday.

MAI, an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), coordinates the progress of the country’s automotive industry.

Last month, MITI had advertised on its website an invitation for any interested parties to submit their proposal for the national car project.

Madani said all proposals would have to include details of the programme, prototype development specification and production timeline.

On incentives, Madani said this will be discussed after the company’s proposal has been been approved.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had mooted the idea of a third national car after Pakatan Harapan swept to power in the May 9 general election.

His proposal, however, had drew criticism from certain politicians, economists and the public.

During an interview with The Malaysian Reserve, Dr Mahathir defended his proposal, claiming the car project would open the country to engineering knowledge in other fields and segments besides automotive.

Dr Mahathir also said the government’s responsibility is to develop the engineering knowledge and economy of the country, and not to decide what car is to be driven by the public.

Meanwhile, Madani said the ministry is also finalising the National Automotive Policy 2018, slated to be launched by year-end.

He said locals must benefit from the whole automotive ecosystem, including employment, if it is a true national car.

“It must also provide business to local parts suppliers and contribute a high spin-off effect to the economy.

“In that sense, we are not only talking about selling for the domestic market, but also penetrating the global marketplace,” Madani said.

Currently, there are about 650 automotive parts and components sup-pliers, as well as 53,011 after-sales business companies in the country employing more than 755,630 people, according to MAI data.

Proton and MAI are expected to further optimise shared resources in developing Proton’s parts and enhancing the suppliers chain.

Madani said the government is allocating RM4 million in order to uplift the vendors’ capabilities to cater for Proton’s future models, starting with the new X70 which is expected to be assembled locally in June next year.

“As the levels of technology in our new products are higher, the suppliers need to upgrade.

“Additionally, in order to get into Geely’s group of suppliers, they must first upgrade,” Proton deputy CEO Datuk Radzaif Mohamed said.